Tag Archives: film music

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

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Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Given how vigilant Moana’s father is about no one leaving the island, I was curious to see how his daughter would manage to get away. The moment arrives, rather shockingly, when Grandmother Tala is revealed to be dying (a fan theory speculates that this is because she gave the Heart of Te Fiti to Moana that had hitherto been keeping her alive all these years). Moana is deeply upset, but Tala, knowing that this is her granddaughters only chance to get away, tells her to go and find Maui. This is absolutely heartbreaking: Moana doesn’t want to leave her grandmother without properly saying goodbye, but she also wants to set things right for the island. So she heads for the boats, which starts off the reprise of “How Far I’ll Go.”

There’s a line where the sky meets the sea and it calls me
But no one knows, how far it goes
All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me
I’m on my own, to worlds unknown

There’s a surprising moment when Moana is gathering supplies at her home: her mother Sia finds her and there’s a long stretch where they just stare at each other. And without saying a word Sia shows her support by throwing in some more supplies and giving them to Moana. She’s heartbroken but she also knows this is something her daughter has to do (I have a suspicion she’s known this for a while now).

Every turn I take, every trail I track
Is a choice I make, now I can’t turn back
From the great unknown where I go alone
Where I long to be

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Having selected her boat and pushed it out into the lagoon, Moana looks back at the island and then comes my favorite part of this scene. All of the lights go out in the big hut and a huge manta ray spirit comes flying into the water. The manta is wonderfully animated, shining with bioluminescence in a design that matches the tattoo Tala had. Earlier, Tala had revealed a manta ray tattoo on her back, revealing that she would come back as one when she died. Moana sees this spirit and knows its her grandmother guiding her out to sea. This moment, I admit, always brings tears to my eyes because, despite being beautiful to see, it also means that her beloved grandmother is gone.

See her light up the night in the sea, she calls me
And yes I know that I can go
There’s a moon in the sky and the wind is behind me
Soon I’ll know how far I’ll go

With the help of Tala’s spirit, Moana is guided beyond the lagoon with far less fuss than I thought there might be. I admit, when I first watched this film in the theater, I half expected to hear her father pleading for Moana to come back, but nothing of the sort happened. On another random note, I’m really glad her father didn’t follow through on his threat of burning the boats. When he said “I should’ve burned those boats years ago” I had a strong flashback to King Triton just before he destroyed the grotto in The Little Mermaid and for a moment I believed we were going to get a repeat of that scenario.

I hope you enjoyed “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” I hope I can come back and finish the rest of the songs from Moana sooner rather than later. Let me know what you thought of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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Dumbo “When I See an Elephant Fly” (1941)

In keeping with the unofficial theme this week of covering Disney’s non-politically correct moments, it wouldn’t do to forget the crows in Dumbo. But first, a quick recap as to how Dumbo meets these characters:

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Dumbo “When I See An Elephant Fly” (1941)

Things have been going badly for our baby elephant: first his mother his locked away in chains; then a stunt goes awry and Dumbo is turned into a circus clown; third, and most recently, his well-meaning friend Timothy Q. Mouse accidentally gets him drunk and they both hallucinate pink elephants! (It’s amazing what they could put in a film back in 1941!!) The following morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up….in a tree!! This is where Dumbo and his friend meet the crows.

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Oh those crows…to be honest, I didn’t realize for a long time that the crows were a racist depiction. When you’re a little kid, you don’t think about those things, you just see some singing birds and that’s that. But as I got older and learned about the history of these things, I began to see these crows in a whole new light. And one thing I learned is that stereotypes can appear in disguise, for instance using black crows instead of, well, pardon the non-PC reference but using black crows instead of black humans. Another big clue? The leader of these crows is named…Jim Crow (no, seriously, check out the credits on Wikipedia!) A third clue? The birds all speak “jive,” a style of slang well-associated with African-American musicians during this time. They also sing jive too, and that’s where we get to “When I See An Elephant Fly.”

I seen a peanut stand, heard a rubber band
I seen a needle that winked its eye
But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see an elephant fly

(What d’you say, boy?) 
I said when I see an elephant fly
I seen a front porch swing, heard a diamond ring
I seen a polka-dot railroad tie
But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see an elephant fly

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One thing that is fun about this song is most of the words have a double meaning; it helps if you put quotes around the words with changed meanings: so…a front porch that “swings” (dances); a diamond “ring” (like a bell), a railroad “tie” (necktie), and so on.

(I saw a clothes horse, he r’ar up and buck) 
(And they tell me that a man made a vegetable truck) 
(I didn’t see that, I only heard) 
(But just to be sociable, I’ll take your word)

(I heard a fireside chat, I saw a baseball bat) 
(And I just laughed till I thought I’d die) 
But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see an elephant fly

Well I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see an elephant fly
(With the wind)

When I see an elephant fly

See, initially, the crows are inclined to tease Dumbo for his ears just like everyone else has throughout the story. But then Timothy sets them all straight by recounting (briefly) all the terrible things that have happened to Dumbo. The shamed crows decide to make it up to the pair by helping Dumbo to fly for real (it’s implied that Dumbo flew to the tree while he was drunk and just doesn’t remember doing so). To help in this process, the head crow presents a feather to Dumbo, calling it a “magic” feather that will help him fly (with a knowing wink to Timothy who catches on quick). Sure enough, with the feather clutched tight, Dumbo CAN fly!! As the crows say (as Dumbo and Timothy return to the circus), “those city boys are in for a big surprise!”

What do you think about “When I See An Elephant Fly”? Were the racist elements obvious or did it also take you a while to catch on? Let me know what you think in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Dumbo “Song of the Roustabouts” (1941)

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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Dumbo “Song of the Roustabouts” (1941)

Forgive the pun but I decided it’s time to clear another elephant out of the room. Unfortunately, for everything good that Disney has contributed to film and animation, there are multiple examples of Disney portraying things they probably want to forget about. One example is the “Song of the Roustabouts” from Dumbo (1941). After baby Dumbo arrives on the train (via late delivery from the stork), the train pulls in to where the circus will be held the following day. As a storm breaks out, the elephants and other animals disembark to help set up the big top, accompanied by the roustabouts: these are unskilled laborers, often employed for hard labor.

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Dumbo “Song of the Roustabouts” (1941)

It’s hard to tell given this scene takes place at night, but the roustabouts in Dumbo are all African-American, and given that this takes place in 1941 the lyrics are…interesting to say the very least. The song starts off with cries of “Hike! Ugh!” as the singers/workers establish a driving pattern to aid in driving in the tent stakes:

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
We work all day, we work all night
We never learned to read or write
We’re happy-hearted roustabouts

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
When other folks have gone to bed
We slave until we’re almost dead
We’re happy-hearted roustabouts

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Just stop and look at these two verses alone: according to the roustabouts they can’t read or write, they work extremely hard and yet despite all this they’re “happy-hearted roustabouts”? It sounds ironic in 2018 but in 1941 they’re being quite serious.

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
We don’t know when we get our pay
And when we do, we throw our pay away
We get our pay when children say
With happy hearts, “It’s circus day today”

This is the verse that disturbs me the most, it implies that when the roustabouts DO get paid, they promptly blow their money on frivolous things (keeping in line with certain stereotypes about African-Americans being lazy, etc. Remember, this was 1941 and these things were considered acceptable then).

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Muscles achin’
Back near breaking
Eggs and bacon what we need (Yes, sir!)
Boss man houndin’
Keep on poundin’
For your bed and feed
There ain’t no let up
Must get set up
Pull that canvas! Drive that stake!
Want to doze off
Get them clothes off
But must keep awake

During this long section, the other animals are shown helping in the set up, mostly the elephants moving stakes and poles, but the camels are helping too. It’s funny, when I watched this movie as a young kid, I was convinced that the circus animals really did help in this way. Even Dumbo is seen doing his part alongside his mother.

Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave!
Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave!
Hep! Heave! Hep!

Swing that sledge! Sing that song!
Work and laugh the whole night long
You happy-hearted roustabouts!
Pullin’, poundin’, tryin’, groundin’
Big top roundin’ into shape
Keep on working!
Stop that shirking!
Grab that rope, you hairy ape!
Poundin’! poundin’! poundin’! poundin’!
Oh

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The storm that started when the train arrived has now become a full-on thunderstorm (poor Dumbo hides in fright from the lightning). And the song does throw in one last unbelievable line with “Grab that rope, you hairy ape!” (I really won’t explain that one in further detail since it really speaks for itself). At last, despite the driving rain and winds, the big top is raised and come morning the circus is ready to begin!

It might seem strange to focus on these songs (especially given the issues going on in the country right now), but I can’t let these songs slip away unnoticed. Not writing about them is tantamount to saying they never happened, but they did. So on that note, I hope you found “Song of the Roustabouts” interesting. Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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Peter Pan “What Made the Red Man red?” (1953)

Before I get started with talking about this song, let’s get the elephant out of the room shall we? Yes, “What Made the Red Man red?” is a highly racist, non-politically correct song that employs multiple Native American stereotypes. That being said, remember that this was 1953 and the world was a very different place from what it is now.

(also, I’m going to refer to the tribe as ‘Indians’ because that’s how they’re described in the film, I know Native American is the correct word to use)

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Peter Pan “What Made the Red Man Red?” (1953)

At the start of this song, Wendy, John and Michael are celebrating the safe return of Tiger Lily with Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Indian tribe. In gratitude, the Chief dubs Peter “Chief Flying Eagle” and everyone celebrates. As the party gets going, the Lost Boys have three questions:

“What made the red man red?” (it should be noted that in this film the Indians, except for Tiger Lily, are almost literally red-skinned, based on the derogatory slang once used to describe them).

“When did he first say ‘ugh’?” (another stereotype, this one contends that Indians say ‘ugh’ in response to a lot of things)

“Why does he ask you ‘how’?” (another stereotype and something of a generalization: there ARE some tribes that use this as a greeting, but the stereotype makes it appear that ALL Indians use this as a greeting, which isn’t true).

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The Chief and his chorus of braves set out to answer these questions, accompanied by the drums:

Why does he ask you, “How?”
Why does he ask you, “How?”
Once the Injun didn’t know
All the things that he know now
But the Injun, he sure learn a lot
And it’s all from asking, “How?”
Hana Mana Ganda
Hana Mana Ganda
We translate for you
Hana means what mana means
And ganda means that, too

This scene is also notable because it shows several characters smoking on a peace pipe. While Wendy abstains (and prevents Michael from using it too), John takes a pretty good puff and turns green as a result (in kind of the same way that Pinocchio did over a decade prior).

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In between the verses, everyone starts dancing, including Wendy, though she doesn’t get to enjoy herself for long. Wendy runs headlong into an Indian matriarch who proclaims “Squaw (Wendy) no dance, squaw get firewood!” Wendy is miffed that she can’t have fun like the other boys (and Tiger Lily, more on that in a moment) but she goes off to get the firewood.

When did he first say, “Ugh!”
When did he first say, “Ugh!”
In the Injun book it say
When first brave married squaw
He gave out with heap big ugh
When he saw his Mother-in-Law

Meanwhile, Wendy is returning with a load of firewood (still trying to have a good time) when she gets a look at Tiger Lily and Peter Pan:

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What made the red man red?
What made the red man red?

Let’s go back a million years
To the very first Injun prince
He kissed a maid and start to blush
And we’ve all been blushin’ since

You’ve got it right from the headman
The real true story of the red man
No matter what’s been written or said
Now you know why the red man’s red!

The scene implies that Tiger Lily gave Peter a great big kiss which makes Peter blush with happiness. Wendy is furious that someone else is kissing ‘her’ Peter, and when the matriarch demands she get more firewood, Wendy retorts “Squaw NO getting firewood, squaw go home!” And she marches off to the Lost Boys home, very upset. I always felt bad for Wendy, everyone else got to have fun but her.

Political incorrectness aside, this song marks the turning point in the story for Wendy. Up until this point, she’d been having fun with Peter in Neverland (although the visit to the mermaids didn’t exactly go as planned), but now she’s beginning to realize that she doesn’t belong here, it’s time to go home (as in back to London). Also, no one yet knows that Captain Hook has taken Tinkerbell captive, as he is determined to find the Lost Boys hideout and eliminate his nemesis once and for all!

What do you think of this song? Have you seen this song before? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below, and have a great day!

See also:

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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Remembering James Horner: Troy (2004)

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Troy is a 2004 epic film that is a (greatly abbreviated) adaptation of the Illiad (which tells the story of the Trojan War). The film features a star-studded cast:

  • Brad Pitt: Achilles
  • Sean Bean: Odysseus
  • Brian Cox: Agamemnon
  • Peter O’Toole: King Priam
  • Eric Bana: Hector
  • Orlando Bloom: Paris
  • Diane Kruger: Helen

While not perfect, Troy is a good film with a remarkable score by James Horner. The music is even more remarkable when you consider that Horner put it together in the space of four weeks after Gabriel Yared’s score for the film was rejected.

For the score, Horner employed singer Tanja Carovska (who had also provided vocals for Yared’s rejected score) as well as using Eastern Mediterranean music and brass instruments to create a feeling of ancient Greece.

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Horner created several motifs throughout the score, a few of which I’d like to point out:

-The Greeks: The theme for the Greek army really emerges in full when they approach Troy in their thousand ships. It’s distinguished by a driving trumpet theme, highlighting the relentlessness of the Greek soldiers led by the egomaniacal Agamemnon. Most tellingly, it also re-emerges (briefly) just before the Trojan Horse is revealed onscreen for the first time, a musical hint that there are Greeks hidden inside.

The Greeks arrive at Troy

-Achilles: The theme for the legendary hero is also based on brass instruments, but it has a nobler tone than the theme assigned to the Greeks. Most notable appearance would have to be when Achilles storms the beach leading the Myrmidons. There’s also a reprise when Achilles heads off to find Briseis during the sacking of Troy.

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Achilles on the beach (theme starts when Achilles jumps off the ship)

-Achilles and Briseis: The love motif for Achilles and Briseis (a Trojan princess turned priestess turned captive) forms the basis of the end credits song “Remember” as performed by Josh Groban. No matter what Achilles claims, I think throughout the story he remembers what his mother said, that if he goes to Troy he will never come home. So his love for Briseis is tempered by this knowledge, that’s why the theme is relatively sad for a love theme. A good example of hearing this theme is at the end right before Achilles dies and he tells Briseis to leave with Paris.

Troy “The Trojan Horse”

-The Trojan Horse: I’ve covered the music for the Trojan Horse in depth before, but I have to talk about it again because it really is my favorite musical moment in the film. Even if you’re not familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse, the sheer ominousness of the music tells you that there’s something fishy with this horse. But of course no one listens to Paris’ suggestion to just burn the horse where it stands (the one time he makes a good decision in the entire film) and the horse is brought into the city. The music is triumphant and tragic all at once, because the Trojans think they’ve won but in fact they’re doomed.

Horner’s score for Troy remains one of my favorites and I highly recommend it to any fans of James Horner’s music. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for three years already, but as long as we keep listening to his music, he’ll never really be forgotten.

This is my contribution to the Remembering James Horner Blogathon, hope you enjoy it.

See also:

3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Day 1

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3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Full Recap

It’s finally time for the 3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon. Each day I’ll be posting a recap of what everyone’s submitted for the blogathon 🙂 I can’t wait to read all of your posts as well as add my own this weekend 🙂 Thanks again for taking part in this blogathon, have fun!

Reelweegiemidget Reviews looks at: The Hand (1981)

Plain, Simple Tom takes us to old California and examines: The Mask of Zorro (1998)

MovieRob looks at a golfing legend with: Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (2004)

My submission this year looks at James Horner’s score for: Troy (2004)

MovieRob looks at Disney’s underrated film: The Rocketeer (1991)

MovieRob looks at one of my favorites: Casper (1995)

Kim @ Tranquil Dreams looks at one of Horner’s final pieces: The 33 (2015)

Cinematic Catharsis looks at an early piece with: Krull (1983)

 

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Film Music Central is on Patreon!

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Official Film Music Central Patreon

Hey everyone! I hope you are having an amazing day. Since there have been a lot of new followers as of late I thought I would share the details of Film Music Central’s Patreon page.

I actually started the Patreon page two years ago, but I’ve only been using it full time for about six months. Patreon is a platform that lets you directly contribute to a content creator (blogger, vlogger, etc.) whose work you like. In the case of Film Music Central, my Patreon operates to fund trips to the movie theater so I can afford to watch and review the newest films as they are released. Later this will expand to covering the expenses of paying for the website domain and later upgrading the site and possibly expanding into other media (video game reviews, book reviews) but that’s in the future for now.

There are three tiers of subscription: Film Friend, Film Lover and Film Maniac.

-Film Friend is the first tier and it’s $2/month. At this tier you receive access to all “patron-only” posts which consist of my reviews of movie trailers, recaps of what I’ve viewed in a given month, etc.

-Film Lover is the second tier and is $5/month. At this tier you have access to all “patron-only” posts as well as the ability to commission a blog article that covers a film or film soundtrack of your choice within reason. You’ll also get a shoutout on the Patreon page 🙂

-Film Maniac is the third and currently highest tier and is $10/month. At this tier you receive all of the above as well as the ability to commission a full-length (10-15 minute) YouTube video where I discuss a film, film soundtrack or film related topic of your choice.

For those who subscribe and become “patrons” of the blog, know that you can cancel at any time, there’s no binding commitment for a year or anything like that.

Any support that can be given means the world to me (please don’t feel like you HAVE to, there’s no obligation) and makes it that much easier to bring you the best film and soundtrack reviews possible.

To check out the page for yourself, click on the link at the top of the article. Thank you again for all the support you’ve given in the last 2 1/2 years and have a great day 🙂

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